It was a bit of a spectacle as a century-old farmhouse was slowly transported through the Rosedale community of Chilliwack last Sunday.
The process of moving the iconic Mercer House was both “exciting and terrifying” for the new owners to watch.
“We are pretty excited,” Melissa Sache said. “We didn’t want to see the old house get destroyed.”
Saving the old yellow house from demolition became a family project.
Melissa Sache, her husband, Pierre Sache, and daughter Stella, will be moving into the 110-year-old house once it’s fixed up, she said.
“My husband and I have a thing for old farmhouses,” she explained.
The five-bedroom, three-bathroom home was moved on Aug. 10 from the spot near Tycrop Manufacturing, to the new location, across the back fields on Nevin Road.
“I wasn’t really nervous. The movers were great,” said Sache. “We had faith in them. It was an amazing thing to see.”
One day on the way to church last year, they discussed the prospect of making it a family project to acquire and move the Mercer house.
“We decided to give it a shot.”
It took from mid-January to August to bring it all to fruition.
Tycrop Manufacturing rep Colin Braun said he helped facilitate the big move from the Tycrop side of things. The company owners had decided they needed to use the land the house was sited on, and were aware of community concern over the prospect of demolition.
“We just had to get the house moved off the site,” he said.
They originally obtained a demolition permit. But instead of tearing it down at a cost of $25,000, Tycrop officials decided to chip in those costs, hoping someone would be willing to move the unique structure to a new site.
“This house was different. The neighbours didn’t want to see it get demolished,” said Braun.
So they arranged a special deal where they threw in the house to anyone who could move it within about a kilometre from where it stood. They hired Victoria-based Pridy Brothers, which specializes in house moving.
To move it, they took the house off its foundation and bolted wheels onto steel beams, effectively “making the house into a giant trailer,” Braun said.
They then took down a fence, and took the structure through the factory property, onto the road, and then towed it through some fields to the new location.
They managed to bypass requirement to move utility poles along McGrath Road since they weren’t using the street for most of the move, Braun said.
”They were able to tow it through the field and line it up on their driveway,” he said.
On the lower end of the field, the ground turned out to be a little soft, which slowed down the entire process.
But it eventually arrived safe and sound on Nevin Road.
“We’re happy that someone will fix it up and be using it, only a few blocks from where it stood for so long,” Braun said.
Now the Sache family will have to get a new foundation built. Then they’ll have the support beams removed and start some renovations.
“The house is beautiful inside, with lots of wood finishing,” Sache said, noting it has wood chair rails, mouldings and doors, and a grand front staircase with the original bannisters.
“It’s a piece of history,” Sache said. “There aren’t many houses like this left. So it’s fitting for it to end up on another local farm. That makes it a forever home.”